When you hear the word naltrexone, your first instinct is most likely to think of this medication as something that is used to treat opioid or alcohol dependence. However, what if we were to tell you that patients suffering from fibromyalgia could use this medication to find relief and treat their pain. As strange as this may sound, breakthroughs in research in the recent years have actually shown that low dose naltrexone may potentially have a multitude of uses, including treating autoimmune diseases, pain and central nervous system disorders.
What is Naltrexone?
So what exactly is naltrexone? Naltrexone is an opiate blocking medication, commonly referred to as an opiate agonist. In other words, this medication blocks the effects of opioids by competing to bind to opioid receptors in your body. This medication has been used for many years to safely treat patients suffering from opioid and alcohol dependence. Naltrexone is generally well tolerated, however, potential side effects may include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and restlessness. Naltrexone should be avoided in patients with liver failure and those who are currently taking or dependent on opioids.
Low Dose Naltrexone vs. High Dose Naltrexone
Typically naltrexone is prescribed in doses of 50 mg/day or higher for the treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. However, studies have confirmed that lower doses of naltrexone (3 to 5 mg) decreases symptoms with certain diseases. These diseases included Chron’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a devastating disease that affects your muscle and bones and causes extreme pain, fatigue, insomnia, plus memory and mood issues. These symptoms can decrease the quality of a person’s life tremendously. Unfortunately, the exact causes of fibromyalgia are not known.
Researchers believe that those suffering from fibromyalgia may have extra sensitive microglia and subsequently, their central nervous system (CNS) may have increased inflammation. Microglia are important cells in our CNS, which are crucial to the proper functioning of the immune system. Once these cells become stimulated, they set off a chain of events in your body and they release chemicals, which encourage the inflammatory process. This activation results in symptoms of fatigue and increased pain sensitivity, which are common complaints in patients with fibromyalgia.
Low Dose Naltrexone For Fibromyalgia
The proposed mechanism of action is that low dose naltrexone weakens the inflammatory process and therefore decreases the pain associated with this disease. Scientists believe that naltrexone represses the action of the microglia cells. By hindering the effects of the microglia cells there is a reduction in the severity of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
Naltrexone is currently only commercially available as 50 mg tablets, thus lower doses of this medication need to be compounded by a specialty compounding pharmacy such as Compounding Pharmacy of Beverly Hills. We work with your doctor to customize this medication specifically for you. Contact us today to learn more.
Sourced by: CareFirst RX